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Remembering Members who have died but will not be forgotten


Mary Falk
1946 - 2020

 

Mary Falk died peacefully at Oakhaven Hospital, Lymington on 19 September aged 74.


Mary had success in every region of her life and gave generously of her time and fortune throughout. She was not only an eminent lawyer but also had a passion for double or single-handed ocean racing and skiing. She had a formidable intellect though a rather diminutive physique that nevertheless earned her two half-blues at Cambridge University. To encounter her as a friend was to luxuriate in the delight of her cheerful bubbling company but, one imagines, taking her on in a legal battle must have seemed like being accurately bombed by a good supply of mortars.

Mary’s childhood at Rugby school, where her father was a housemaster, showed a penchant for organisation and singular personal competitiveness. She was not pleased to find she had only achieved second best scholarship to her boarding school but this may have been assuaged when she became head girl.

From school she went on to read classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, gaining one half-blue for swimming, her events being the breast stroke and butterfly. The other half blue was for lacrosse, perhaps surprising for someone of only 5ft4in in height. After university she gained a place in the big London law firm Farrers, famous for use by the Royal Family, where she became one of the first ladies ever to become a full partner.

After a successful legal career she retired to Lymington in 2003 where she threw herself into charity work. She became founder trustee of the Pioneer Sailing Trust and co-chair of Community First in the New Forest. In 2005 she raised £100,000 for cancer research, herself having suffered serious breast cancer. Her house in Nelson Place was always immaculate inside and out and she converted one of her garages into a quantity of exercise machines which were in regular use.

Mary’s sailing career started in her late twenties aboard a small ketch on the Blackwater Estuary crewed by her younger brother Andrew and she took to it like a fish to water. She crewed for a friend with a Folkboat and went on to do the 1981 Fastnet with him in his Sigma 33. Then fired with the ambition to show what women could do, Mary bought a UFO34 and  embarked on a succession of single or double-handed long distance races, starting in 1982 with the round Britain and Ireland. Later she did the Azores and Back, called the AZAB and then the single-handed transatlantic race, called the OSTAR. She had done well but realising that to win she needed a more specialised yacht, in 1990 she commissioned designer Mike Pocock and boat builder Steve Etheridge: a brilliant combination. The outcome was a very fast 35ft water-ballasted vessel which was at least equal to the competition. The outcome was extraordinary and Mary became even more famous in the short handed ocean racing world. Amongst other triumphs, in 1992 she broke the record for the fastest ever female solo Atlantic crossing, in 1995 she won her class in the AZAB and broke another record. In 1996 she won her class in the OSTAR and broke the record for the fastest ever Atlantic crossing single handed for that size of boat. For this crossing she was awarded the Royal Cruising Club’s medal for seamanship. Mary had a glorious sailing career which totalled three OSTAR transatlantics, three AZABs, one Fastnet and no less than six round Britain and Ireland races. She did indeed show what women could do.

Mary lived for skiing too and, once retired, spent the whole winter in the Alps, mostly in Flaine. She sometimes arrived before the resort had opened for the season, and being without a lift, climbed up the mountains using skins to ski down the ungroomed pistes. She spent much time skiing the far flung and difficult off-piste areas of Flaine with expert guide and great friend, Yann Wintercamp.

To start off with at Royal Cruising Club ski meets, her desire to keep up with the top skiers was not matched by her ability to turn and she sometimes ended up finding herself going straight down at ever increasing speed that was terrifying to onlookers. She rapidly improved after Yann’s instruction and attending many of the Ski Club of Great Britain off-piste courses, attaining a Purple Plus grading, only one level down from the ultimate Gold Badge and took on such places as the steep and dangerous Grand Couloir at Coucheval. Indeed her technique developed to enviable elegance on and off piste but, over the years, at the price of one broken ankle and three broken legs. The Royal Cruising Club, renowned for the toughness and tenacity of its members, were often awestruck by Mary’s plain courage and single-minded determination.

Mary was a delight to ski with, her one fault being that she would not wish to stop for lunch and, if persuaded, would have to be reminded to sit down and take her helmet off!

Mary Falk was born with many admirable and robust qualities which she used to tremendous effect for the good. Indeed she left the world a better place than she found it.


Olga Macnabb

It is with regret that we share with you that Olga Macnabb sadly passed away on Saturday 4th July.
Olga had been a Member since 1979.


Elsa Green

 

It is with much regret that we share with you the passing of Elsa Green who passed away suddenly on Tuesday 21st July.
 
Elsa had been a Member of the Club since 1975.
 
There will be a family only funeral on 14th August. Friends are invited to light a candle at 18.00 in her honour. Please send condolences, memories, or photos to the family at
memoriesofelsa@gmail.com.


 
 


Madeleine Freeman



 

Madeleine Freeman, who was known to her fellow artists and medical colleagues as Maddi Ballard, died at home on 21st May.
Her cremation will be at Test Valley on 9th June at 11.30 and there will be a web cast. Madeleine’s husband
Nick confirms there will be a celebration of Maddi's life once restrictions permit.

Nick would like to invite any of Madeleine’s friends who wish to view the service by Webcast to email him on
nick.freeman@zen.co.uk for details.